James Madison University

Research, Educational, and Service Projects

Project Title: GeoPortal@JMU
Dr. James Wilson
Research Goals: Develop a metadata and mapping portal to facilitate the documentation and sharing of geospatially-related projects, resources, etc. Current efforts are exploring the use and modification of the GeoPortal opensource software and the ISO metadata standard.

Project Title: Spatial Ontology Community of Practice: an Interdisciplinary Network to Support Geospatial Data Sharing, Integration and Interoperability (INTEROP)
Dr. James Wilson, along with PIs at other institutions
Sponsors: National Science Foundation
Research Goals: In cooperation with SOCoP and with support from the ontology community this work proposes to create a network of interested geospatial researchers, practitioners, and developers for the purpose of creating, experimenting with, and using ontologies in the geospatial domain.
URL: http://ontolog.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?NsfInterop_Grant, http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=0955816

Project Title: Concurrent Programming in GPS Navigation Systems
Prof. David Bernstein, Kris Kalish
Research Goals: Explore the ways in which multi-core CPUs can be exploited in GPS navigation systems.

Project Title: Personal Navigation Systems
Prof. David Bernstein
Educational Goals: Develop a course that teaches students the core concepts necessary to design and implement a rudimentary GPS navigation system.
URL: https://users.cs.jmu.edu/bernstdh/web/CS480PNS/

Project Title: JMU DukeQuest Walking Map
Participants: Faculty leads: Drs. David Wenos and Mike Deaton
Sponsors: James Madison University’s Office of Public Safety
Research Goals and Objectives: The estimates of walking time, caloric expenditure, and elevation change over each of the 496 routes were determined by integrating the disciplines of exercise physiology, system dynamics modeling, 3-D spatial analysis, and geographic information science. The JMU DukeQuest Walking Map is intended to promote physical activity for all JMU students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors.

Project Title: Blood Lactate and Physiological Responses to Nordic Walking and Walking in a Field Setting
Participants: Erica Ciffarelli, Drs. David Wenos and Mike Deaton
Research Goals and Objectives:The purpose of the study was to compare the physiological responses; blood lactate, oxygen uptake (VO2), carbon dioxide expiration (VCO2), ventilation (VE), respiratory exchange ratio (RER), heart rate (HR), oxygen pulse (O2P), metabolic equivalents (MET) and energy expenditure (EE), between walking with and without Nordic walking poles in a field setting.

Project TItle: The Effects of Deep-Seated Landslides on the Width of Valleys and the Habitat for Salmon
Participants: Christine May and Dr. Eaton (JMU), and J. Roerig and K. Burnett (University of Oregon)
Research goals and questions: A fundamental yet unresolved question in fluvial geomorphology is what controls the width of valley floors in mountainous terrain. Because the most productive habitats for salmon often occur in low gradient streams with broad valley floors, establishing a predictive relation for valley width is critical for realizing linkages between aquatic ecology and geomorphology. Understanding spatial variation in valley floor width is important because broad valley floors can accommodate sinuous channels, provide off-channel habitats during floods, and dampen episodic inputs of sediment by providing space for the formation of debris flow fans. Although hydraulic geometry relations for channel width exist in many settings, trends in valley width have not been well-characterized. For our study sites in the steep and densely forested central Oregon Coast Range, we used 10m DEMS and 1-m airborne lidar data to explore controls on valley width and couple these findings with previously published models of salmon habitat potential. The first step in this inquiry was to determine how valley floor width varies with drainage area in catchments that exhibit relatively uniform ridge-and-valley topography sculpted primarily by shallow landslides and debris flows. In this steep and highly dissected terrain, valley width varies as a power-law function of drainage area with an exponent of ~0.5. We used this area-valley width relation as a baseline for comparing how valley width varies in catchments subject to large deep-seated landslides. In this terrain, anomalously wide valleys tend to occur upstream of and adjacent to ancient large landslides while valleys downstream of slope failures were narrower than predicted from our power-law area-valley width relation. According to habitat potential models developed for Coho salmon, broad valley segments associated with deep-seated landsliding resulted in a large proportion of the channel network hosting productive habitat. Because landslides in this area are controlled by structural variations in the underlying Tyee Formation, our findings suggest a strong link between geologic properties and aquatic habitat realized by geomorphic processes.

Project Title:  Determination of Topographic and Hydrographic Metrics to Predict Water Quality in the Shenandoah River Watershed
Participants:  Bruce Wiggins, and many undergraduate students
Research goals and questions:  Watershed areas were determined for 118 water quality sampling sites in the Shenandoah River basin.  For each of these watersheds, 49 metrics were calculated, including stream length, percentages of various land uses, and mean slope and aspect.  These metrics are being used in a multivariate regression model to predict the values of nitrate, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity at the sampling sites.
GIS deliverables:  multiple layers containing the calculated metrics.

Project Title:  Creation of a Model to Predict Potential Risk of Mercury Methylation in National Forest Lands.
Participants:  Bruce Wiggins
Sponsors: US Forest Service
Research goals and questions:  Metrics were determined for NHDPlus catchments containing US Forest Service lands to predict the formation of methyl mercury.  Metrics include percent wetlands, mean soil organic carbon, and mean sulfate deposition.
GIS deliverables:  Geodatabase containing layers with the calculated metrics.

Project Title:  Calculation of Watershed Metrics to Assess Management Impact in US Forest Lands.
Participants:  Bruce Wiggins
Sponsors: US Forest Service
Research goals and questions:  Watershed areas were determined for 896 water quality sampling sites in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest.  For each of these watersheds, 50 metrics were calculated, including geological sensitivity, amount of timbering, and mean elevation.  These metrics are being used in a multivariate regression model to assess the impact of Forest Service management activities on the water quality and aquatic life in these watersheds.
GIS deliverables:  Geodatabase containing layers with the calculated metrics.

Project Title:  Sensitivity and Vulnerability of Brook Trout Populations to Climate Change.
Participants:  Bruce Wiggins & Mark Hudy
Sponsors: US Forest Service
Research goals and questions:  Brook trout populations are sensitive to increases in water temperature, which could result from climate change.  A set of geographic metrics were determined, including percent canopy cover, elevation, and mean solar radiation, for the historic brook trout range.  This information will give managers a better indication of which populations may respond to restoration activity.
GIS deliverables:  Geodatabase containing layers with the calculated metrics.

Project Title:Developing a Web-Based, Interactive, Multi-Level Geologic Information System Using Virginia as a Prototype Location
Participants: Steven Whitmeyer (JMU) , Christopher Bailey (College of William & Mary), Callan Bentley (Northern Virginia Community College), Declan De Paor (Old Dominion University)
Website: http://csmres.jmu.edu/Geollab/Whitmeyer/web/visuals/visualizations.html
Research goals and questions: Google Earth (GE) is an effective, user-friendly medium for displaying spatial geoscience information, including maps, cross sections, and outcrop data. Google Fusion Tables provide a database structure that integrates with GE and facilitates the inclusion of geologic and environmental tabular data within GE maps of bedrock, surficial geology, soils, etc. This project is developing an integrated geologic information system using both the Google Earth standalone application and the GE web browser plugin with its Application Program Interface (GE API.) The geologic information system features multi-level geologic maps that scale from statewide maps of physiographic provinces and simplified geology down to intermediate-scale 1:100,000 maps and finally to 1:24,000 scale maps. The maps automatically change as the user zooms closer or farther away from the ground surface or moves laterally across the topography. The maps use color-coded polygons for geologic units to allow users to obtain detailed unit descriptions and metadata when selected. Three-dimensional models are used for vertical cross sections and strike & dip symbols. Detailed GigaPan and other feature imagery will be linked to locations within GE, and Google Fusion Tables will be integrated with the GE maps to display a variety of environmental and geologic point data on location. GE Tours and other resources will be developed for educators and the general public to facilitate inquiry-driven exploration of the geologic information system. The greater Virginia region serves as a template for a geologic information system that would ultimately cover the North American continent.
Related publications: Shufeldt, O., Whitmeyer, S.J., and Bailey, C.M. The New Frontier of Interactive, Digital Geologic Maps: Google Earth-Based Multi-Level Maps of Virginia Geology. In Whitmeyer, S.J., De Paor, D.G., Bailey, J., and Ornduff, T. (eds) Google Earth and Virtual Visualizations in Geoscience Education and Research, GSA Special Paper 492, in press.

Project Title: Digital Geologic Field Mapping as a Component of a Summer Geoscience Field Course
Participants: Steven Whitmeyer
Website: http://www.jmu.edu/geology/irelandfieldcourse.shtml
Research goals and questions: We use a community mapping approach in the digital mapping exercise at the James Madison University field course in western Ireland. During this 4-5 day exercise students produce a geologic map in ArcGIS, after collected field data using ruggedized handheld PCs running ArcPad. The project focuses on mapping an extensive mountainous region by targeting an original section of a mountain each year, such that over a 5 year period, the whole mountain gets collectively mapped (Whitmeyer et al., 2010). Though students are still effectively novice field mappers at this point in the course, the collective integration of data from 15 to 20 digital maps typically results in any disparate data points being overwhelmed by accurate data. The collective digital map that is produced is impressive in the quantity of outcrop data represented. The map can also be pedagogically instructive in that it sometimes reveals regions where students had conflicting interpretations of the geology.
Related Publications: Whitmeyer, S.J. 2012. Community Mapping in Geology Education and Research: How Digital Field Methods Empower Student Creation of Accurate Geologic Maps. In Kastens, K.A., and Manduca, C.A. (eds) Earth and Mind II: A Synthesis of Research on Thinking and Learning in the Geosciences, GSA Special Paper 486, p. 171-174, doi: 10.1130/2012.2486(27).

Whitmeyer, S.J., Nicoletti, J., and De Paor, D.G. 2010. The Digital Revolution in Geologic Mapping. GSA Today, v. 20, p. 4-10, doi: 10.1130/GSATG70A.1.

Project Title: Range Estimation for Electric Vehicles based on Energy Modeling
Participants: Dr. Prins, Dr. Carole Nash, Ed Thurnau (GE Fanuc), Leonard Winslow (GS student), Robbie Hurlbrink (Engineering student)
Sponsors: Institute for Energy and Environmental Research
Project Description: Fleet managers and other potential electric vehicle owners do not have a reliable way to estimate vehicle range prior to purchase and operation.  This can lead to unrealistic expectations of electric vehicle range and the associated “buyer’s remorse” at having invested in an emerging technology when the anticipated performance is not achieved.  This proposal seeks to further develop a novel energy usage approach to vehicle performance modeling that relies on the use of geospatial technology to estimate the “road loads” (forces acting on a vehicle along its line of travel) associated with actual travel paths.  This method could be applied by fleet managers and other owners to help them make appropriate decisions regarding electric vehicle deployment for user-specified duty cycles.

Project Title: Geospatial Semester
Participants: Dr. Bob Kolvoord, Ms. Kathryn Keranen, Mr. Paul Rittenhouse
Website: http://www.isat.jmu.edu/geospatialsemester
GIS deliverables - each student or team of students must submit and present a final project of their choosing that applies GIS to a problem of interest.  Examples of projects are available on the Geospatial Semester website.

Project Title: K-12 GIS Site License
Participants: Dr. Bob Kolvoord, Mr. Paul Rittenhouse, Ms. Lynda Capaccio
Website: http://gs.cisat.jmu.edu/software/index.html
Sponsors: ESRI
Research goals and questions: This is a service project.  JMU supports the provision of GIS software for all K-12 schools in Virginia through a voluntary consortium.  
GIS deliverables: software for Virginia schools

Project Title: Assessing the Impact of GIS on Student Spatial Thinking
Participants: Dr. Bob Kolvoord, Ms. Lori Lineweaver, Dr. David Uttal (Northwestern Univ.), Mr. Nathaniel Meadow (Northwestern Univ.), Dr. Mike Charles (Pacific Univ.)
website (if one exists) - N/A
Sponsors: Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center (sponsored by the National Science Foundation) - funding is provided via Temple and Northwestern Universities
Research goals and questions: The goal of this research is to analyze video studies of Geospatial Semester students interviewed as they progress through their final project to assess the impact of GIS on students' use of spatial language and gesture.  We also analyze their final projects using a rubric to assess the depth and quality of GIS use and spatial analysis.  We are hoping to provide quantitative evidence of the impact of GIS on students' spatial thinking skills.
GIS deliverables: student GIS projects

Project Title: Apocalyptic Thinking in Iran
Participants: Michael Deaton, Ph.D. (systems analysis), Frances Flannery, Ph.D. (religious studies), Timothy Walton, Ph.D. (intelligence analysis)
Research goals and questions: How can we monitor the spread of apocalyptic thinking in Iran (anticipating a violent transition to a purer and more just world) which, if it becomes predominant, will have major implications as Iran moves toward having a nuclear weapons capability. Presenting report on results to date at the May 2012 conference of International Association for Intelligence Education. Requested to submit an article on subsequent results to upcoming special national defense issue of Systems Dynamics Review.